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Personalities on parade


Personalities on parade

Jane Stephens realises that vehicles are a reflection of who their owners are or want to be – an entertaining insight into how they like to roll.

Have you ever considered cars as personalities, and the rich social texture that is reflected in the vehicle mix?

Queensland has just on four million registered drivers and more than six million cars, all with their own face and vibe.

And here on the Sunshine Coast, we sure do love to take our vehicles out and about. Anyone seeking a car park in Mooloolaba on a weekend or whose weekday rhythm includes the peak-hour rat-run can attest to that.

Cars represent freedom, independence, and personal identity. Some people see their cars as an extension of themselves, and so many take pride in maintaining and customising their vehicles.

Far from just being a mass of metal, cars can even hold sentimental value, such as being a gift from someone beloved or having a link to a memorable experience.

We used to adorn them with bumper stickers and decals, telling other road users where we had been or what our family looked like in stick figure form. And while that has fallen out of fashion, psychologists say that for many, the emotional connection to cars goes beyond their practical function and can be deeply rooted in personal and cultural significance.

Some beefy blokes would not be seen dead in a two-door hatch. The cool and environmentally conscious would not choose a gas guzzler in a million years. The old Ford/Holden division has many more camps now, with makes from far and distant places and drivers eschewing family brand loyalty when deciding to purchase.

On the Coast, there has been evidence of some distinct driver profiles this summer. The ubiquitous four-wheel-drives strut as much as roll through our streets, with accessories and adornments as important as the cars themselves. Shadows of knights with jousting sticks are conjured by the awnings, the lifts, the trappings of the adventurous and outdoorsy.

There are the out-of-towners branded by their number plates and indecision at tricky intersections. There are the hothead P-plate drivers, as confident as their feet are heavy, raring to go and wanting to get there yesterday. There are status seekers in their sleek and featureless EVs, souped-up sports cars in flashy red and utes – once only the ambit of tradies. The drive to be individual and stand out is real.


Jane Stephens is a USC journalism lecturer, media commentator and writer.

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